I parked at the public car park in Manaton, my first visit to that village. It is safe to say that I have never set foot in a more unfriendly village. I was stared at as if no one had ever seen a dog before, some people didn't even reply to my "good morning" greeting, and the locals would rather run me over at speed on the narrow lanes than wait for me & 2 dogs to get out of the way for them to pass. Luckily I did find one friendly resident in a stable yard who asked me about the dogs and pointed me in the right direction for the foot path which was eluding me in spite of my written directions. I should have realised then that my directions were less than ideal.
It was a route I found online - someone's blog, I think. Anyway whoever recorded the walk must have been doing it from memory, and it turns out he has a pretty rubbish memory. Several of the route markers listed were in the wrong order so that I passed the "kissing gate below large boulders" before stumbling purely by chance upon the "wooden bridge over the stream" listed sometime before. And then occasionally, in the middle of of the Forest of Nowhere, there would be crossroads signposted in obscure directions that didn't get a mention at all - "Lower Combe" huh? - "Manaton via Water" er, I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be headed for "Foxworthy" (wherever that may be).
This was the reason I managed to add a whole extra hour onto the beginning of the walk by accidentally (and illegally, as the paths are meant for paying customers, apparently. Oops.) taking the slippery, steep and rather treacherous and fun Red Route circuit of Becky Falls. Oh, and apparently dogs are meant to be on lead there. Oops again. But it was all the fault of the poor directions. Yes it was.
|Neka & Tuuli posing by Becky Falls|
|Many coins in the Money Tree|
Luckily this particular Clam Bridge has recently had a new, safer replacement built next to it so I am in rather less danger of tumbling into the Bovey on a regular basis. But here's what it looked like before the new addition. Rustic and romantic, to be sure, but precarious as the devil too.
|Clam Bridge, Bovey Valley, Dartmoor|
|Last leg of the climb to Heaven's Gate|
|View from Heaven's Gate down toward Pethybridge|
You have no doubt heard that what goes up must come down, and take it from me, when one is walking long distances, the opposite of that adage is even more true. (If a true thing can be more or less true, that is.) So it was with rather mixed feelings that I "enjoyed" this long, steep descent through Pethybridge into the famously picturesque Dartmoor village of Lustleigh.
|Pretty Lustleigh lane|
|Break for a drink and a rest at The Cleave|
|Leaving Lustleigh, headed for that distant hill. In theory.|
|"Aren't we supposed to be over there?"|
I checked my location on Google maps and discovered just how far I still was from Manaton. Then, just in case, I sent that map home in a text for when a search and rescue team had to be dispatched to find me at some point after nightfall. By now I had covered 14.4 km, or the best part of 9 of the 7 miles I was expecting. And, according to my route tracker, in these 9 miles I had climbed 1,345 metres! More than 4000 feet! Can that be true? That's as high as Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. Granted I didn't climb all those feet in one go, but it sure felt like it.
|I'm that dot - on the wrong side of the valley.|
At this point my phone was getting seriously low on charge so I switched it off and unfortunately lost the use of my route tracker at the same time. This is what I got before switching off.
So I don't know exactly how much further I ended up having to walk, nor how much climbing was involved. Unfortunately. Because it was a lot. I estimated an extra 5 kms or so, but looking now at the map it was probably more than that. And much climbing. MUCH. And no, it didn't only feel like a lot. Although, to be sure, it did indeed feel like a lot. Because where I was supposed to cut across from point 12 on the map above in pretty much a straight line down and up the valley to Manaton, I simply could not find the right path and so I actually went from point 12 back to point 6 and then retraced the whole rest of the route back. Needless to say, this time I was careful to avoid the additional illegal detour around the falls.
|Even Tuuli was happy to pause for a rest on a bench nearly back to Manaton|
|We were all glad to get back home.|